June 28, 2005

You're not their supporters. They're your elected representatives.

Don't let them treat you like this no matter what you believe, no matter who you support, no matter what you're wearing or why you're there. So long as you have behaved in a civil manner, they are your elected leaders and they are responsible to you - not the other way around.

I understand that the Secret Service is torn - they absolutely should be reticent about divulging any information about security arrangements at events like this. Who is and isn't an agent, who has what duty - this is all information that I can see as being tightly held, and properly so.

But in this case, I am heartened to hear that they have opened a criminal investigation. They have apparently remembered something that the White House would do well to remember - the Secret Service doesn't work for the Executive Branch.

They work for the Treasury. At least, before this entity called the Department of Homeland Security, that is.

And there was a reason for that.

They're not anyone's private errand boys and girls. They're not anyone's political operatives. They're not there to help keep dissenters out.

They're there to protect the life and wellbeing of their principal. That's all. That's what my taax money pays them to do, and I don't want them thinking about anything else. I don't want them subject to any other duties, orders, or potentially conflicting tasks. Protect the men and women we've elected or appointed. That's it.

And if someone else has been impersonating them? That person is jeopardizing the security of the President of the United States, not to mention abusing the powers granted the Secret Service to perform that task for the reprehensible purpose of quelling dissenting views.

Find them and prosecute them. If the Secret Service knows who that person is, then they need to refer that name to a federal prosecutor right now.

Posted by jbz at June 28, 2005 2:04 AM | TrackBack


Er. Heehee. Right. Good catch. They don't work directly for the President.

I don't compare it, actually, in the sense that 'that's a good question, and I haven't thought about it enough to give you a good answer.'

Sigh. I have to learn to stop writing when angry. I have to take notes when hotly angry, and write when coldly angry.

I will say this, which does not take into account the facts of the Clinton or the Denver cases: If the Secret Service is protecting operational data that directly describes how they protect their charges, then court proceedings should be conducted in closed session to determine a) if that information is in fact related to determining the case and b) if it is in fact sensitive. That process exists for handling information relative to national security in criminal cases. If the judge rules that the information is irrelevant, it can be left out; if it is ruled to be too sensitive to be exposed, it can be protected by the system.

I am skeptical, in general, of any claim by an organization with the skill, professionalism and history of the Secret Service that divulging information on a protective detail will unacceptably disrupt their ability to do their job. I acknowledge that every time information of that sort is divulged, their job becomes more difficult; however, there is no way in hell they are (or should be) relying on single options for anything they do. Furthermore, given that these types of proceedings inevitably arise weeks if not months or years after the fact, the claim of operational security is lessened - especially in the case of public appearances and the handling of the public in the presence of their charges. By the very nature of the work, their process is visible to the public, and if it concerns an interaction with a member of the public, even more so.

Again, I'm not the one who should decide that. A judge should decide that, in sealed session, after hearing from experts on both sides of the issue.

Back to the particular case (the Denver three). This case is quite different from Clinton's indiscretions, but I'd like to focus on a couple particular points. One, as far as we can tell from all information, the interaction between the plaintiffs and the alleged evicter did not involve an actual Secret Service agent at all. It isn't known if Secret Service was even present. The primary difference was that in Clinton's case, there was a 'reasonable expectation of privacy' on the part of the principal - and I can see the argument that forcing the Secret Service to divulge information about activities of their charge that occurred when he had a reasonable expectation of privacy is very different from forcing them to divulge information about someone who was not their designated protectee, in a highly public environment, who was (so far as we can tell) wrongfully arrogating to himself duties and rights which were rightfully those of law enforcement and Secret Service themselves.

In the former case, forcing Secret Service to divulge information on Clinton's activities could certainly cause problems for them as it would induce their present and future principals to quite logically attempt to avoid their Secret Service protectors, and to view them as potential intruders and informants. In the latter, no such risk exists - the principal (Bush) was not present, was not aware of any of this byplay, and in fact was not even involved. Unless the organizers of the event wish to state that they would prefer to not have Secret Service present because that would have a chilling effect on their ability to illegally control access to a taxpayer-funded rally, then I don't see how that argument can be made.

Hm. How's that?

Posted by: J.B. at June 29, 2005 11:23 AM

Uh... last time I checked, the Treasury Dept. / Dept. of Homeland Security are both part of the executive branch. They are under (respectively) the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Homeland Security, which are both cabinet posts who serve at the pleasure of the president (with the advice & consent of the Senate in their hiring alone).

All law enforcement (with a few very unimportant exceptions like the Capitol Police, the Supreme Court Police (yes, they have their own police force), and the Library of Congress Police (them too!)) is within the executive portfolio. After all, it is the executive's job to "enforce and uphold the laws."

I think what you meant is that the Secret Service doesn't work for the White House.

How do you compare this scandal to the "Secret Service Privilege" issue that arose during the Clinton [w/b]itch hunts?

Posted by: Tobias at June 29, 2005 10:52 AM
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